McLaughlin on brink of ARMOR ALL Pole Champion title
Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
By Stefan Bartholomaeus
Scott McLaughlin appears destined to secure the ARMOR ALL Pole Champion Award at this weekend’s Red Rooster Sydney SuperSprint thanks to his phenomenal one-lap form.
The Shell Ford driver will wrap up the $10,000 award if anyone other than Shane van Gisbergen scores pole position today, despite 10 qualifying sessions remaining in the season.
McLaughlin’s record of 11 poles from the 16 races has him nine clear of van Gisbergen, who is the only other driver with multiple poles and needs to score every one from here on out to deny his rival.
Already stamping his authority on the Sydney event by topping Friday practice, McLaughlin’s march shows no signs of slowing.
“You always come into the year you want to try and qualify your best and be the best qualifier. That’s always an aim,” he said when asked of the prospect of securing up the $10,000 prize.
“The best thing about the whole award is not the cash that comes with it, it’s starting up the front and being – the cash is good, don’t get me wrong – but to start up the front is probably the main thing for us, with racing, getting points, moving forward, it’s been vital to our championship this year.
“If we can just keep continuing to do that, that’s nice and definitely helps us.”
McLaughlin’s form suggests he’ll also surpass Jamie Whincup’s 2013 record for most poles in a season, which currently sits at 13.
The 24-year-old’s pole double last time out at Ipswich brought his career tally to 28, leaving him equal eighth on the all-time leaderboard with team co-owner Dick Johnson.
Supercars drivers will have a final practice this morning before qualifying, where windy conditions will be the wildcard factor.
The impact of high winds of car speed and balance was the talk of the paddock on Friday and is expected to continue today.
“It’s the same for everyone,” said McLaughlin of the issue.
“It was very easy to go into Turn 1 very hard (in practice due to the headwind).
“It’s the fastest I’ve ever been in there, or the deepest I’ve ever been in there. You think you’ve done a good job and then go and watch on the fence and everyone’s doing the same thing.
“The hardest thing is when you turn around and you’ve got the wind up your backside, so it’s quite hard to stop the car. But it’s the same for everyone.
“I think it’s just a matter of trying to adapt to it, but it’s quite easy to make a mistake when the wind is as hard as it is.”